Protecting mangroves and coastal vegetation for climate change-mitigation: Vegetated coastal ecosystems are among the most potent natural stores of CO2 worldwide. Besides their rich above- and belowground biomass, it is mostly their sediments in which huge amounts of organic matter is being incorporated and stored as recalcitrant compounds for long times.
The stability of this organic matter under anoxic and saline conditions prevents the release of CO2 (and other greenhouse gases: N2O, CH4) into the atmosphere. High sedimentation rates, due to the attenuation of water movement by plant structures, and subsequent compaction of the sediment stabilize the coastline and protect the coast from erosion and storm damage.
The integrity and spatial extent of mangrove forests and other vegetated coastal ecosystems have been impacted and reduced through human activities over decades, reducing our scope for nature-based climate change-mitigation. Protection, afforestation and – where possible and reasonable – active intervention for expanding the area of these ecosystems are warranted as measures of climate change-adaptation.